Here's a little story about why I gave myself a door for Christmas.
It took me about two seconds into this business of painting to learn that it would be best done with some distance between my work and the world. What I would need, at the most basic of levels, is at least a cushion between what I make and its hapless audience, a broadcast delay de facto, a moment in which I can throw in a censor bleep or a toss up a cascade of those SMPTE color bars when things go to total ruin. Believe it or not a corner in a bedroom or a garage does offer much room for any of that.
More than having room for correction, I want room for obvious error. I want to explore the territory where I would be ok with ruined things, and allow the ruins to stand, to use them as the pavers for the way forward. The next steps in this risky business warrant a little privacy. A solid-core door would come into play. That's the philosophy any way. It was the practicality that won out in the end though. I needed to protect the children. I needed a swear-muffler, and that's really how my door came to be.
Yep, I swore VERY loudly in front of my 5 year old. Why did I swear in front of this oft-time cherub? Upon knocking a wet painting face down in my garage studio space at the beginning of this month, did I employ such an apt word. The painting was rounding the corner of completion when I pushed it down inadvertently with the garage door. Why was I opening the door? Only in trying to get my little boy out to practice riding his bike, only in trying to be a good mother. Nothing more powerful than a mother-artist's true loves to make the cuss words rain.
Down the painting went onto dry leaves. Down it went onto the scattered cat litter. Down it went onto the broken glass and puddling mineral spirits. Yes, it wasn't content to go alone. It brought down with it a jar of lethal liquid as it slammed through a pile of expensive alizarin crimson pigment on the palette's corner. Up went my adrenaline levels. To the depths went my vocabulary.
No depth sufficed. There is not a bad enough word to describe how it feels to me this month to loose any amount of evidence that I may have made some slight progress as a painter. No word bad enough to describe the conflict between wanting to work and wanting to be a good mother. What worse waste is there than to pay for a day's work, at any expense to my children, only see the work fall to the floor? I measure out any painting at all, and measure it in such preciously small amounts, and equally carefully I calculate the worth of what I can give my children. No, not a bad enough word to summarize what it means to squeeze in minutes of work between children's fevers and playdates, to stay up all night even when they are well and make mac n' cheese suffice for dinner just to allow myself to get some work done. And to have that work fall on the garage floor.
As quietly and slowly as only a crazed woman can be, I then asked my son to please go in while Mommy cleans up. At this point, I wasn't sure if it was the loud cuss word or the following erie calm that impressed him most but he scrammed and fast. And I'm not sure exactly what he said to her, but he impressed his sister with his story and they... stayed... out ... of .... my ....way. Jaw clenched, I cleaned up the shards and wiped blood red out of a pure yellow sky. Then in the most chipper voice I could muster, I gave the kids the all-clear and invited them out to ride bikes. And then, sweet Jesus, if the boy didn't go on to make fucking progress on learning to ride his fucking bike that afternoon, then I'm a monkey's ass.
Now you know, the final straw in deciding to take over my daughter's room as an art studio (just for a little while) was my own swearing. Mommy needed a muffler. It's a safe bet that I will end up using foul language much longer than I will use my daughter's room. So, kids, I may have packed up your beds into storage, given away some of your toys, made you share a room but I'm doing this for you. For your own good. Mommy needed a door.
So that's a little bit about that scene. Kids may have been harmed in the making of this story, but in the end they love their bunk beds, which they'd been begging for anyway.